9 things you never noticed in the reunion movie 'Return to Mayberry'

Did you notice Don's daughter and Judy Jetson?

In the Eighties, America missed Mayberry. The proof is in the rating. When Return to Mayberry aired in 1986, the special became the most-watched TV movie of the year.

Reunions and reboots can be tricky propositions, but this sequel lived up to its name. It was not merely a reunion of the cast. Director Bob Sweeney had helmed 80 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, while writers Harvey Bullock and Everett Greenbaum were responsible for some of the greatest Mayberry tales such as "The Pickle Story" and "The Mayberry Band." No wonder the formula remained intact.

Let's take a closer look at one of the greatest television reunions!

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1. The original Mayberry had been destroyed.

In the sixties, filming of The Andy Griffith Show took place on the 40 Acres Studio Lot in Culver City, California, the hub for Desilu Production. This is why you can spot familiar Mayberry businesses and streets in other Desilu shows such as Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. However, in 1976, the entire facility was demolished. Hey, at least they didn't blow up Mayberry for an exploitation film. That meant when production began on Return to Mayberry a decade later in 1986, a new Mayberry needed to be constructed. Try to spot the differences. It's particularly noticeable in the closing shot, when Andy and Barney raise the American flag on a street that stretched to the horizon.

2. Judy Jetson was the voice of Aunt Bee.

Frances Bavier had retired from acting following her time on Mayberry, R.F.D. In fact, she had moved to North Carolina — to a small town not far from the fictional Mayberry! Some claim that Bavier did not reprise her role as Aunt Bee in Return to Mayberry for health reasons (she passed away three years later in 1989) while others speculate she was merely not interested. Thus, Aunt Bee does not appear in the reunion movie, though her voice is heard. That is actually Janet Waldo performing as Bee. You know the cartoon legend best as Judy Jetson, Pearl Slaghoople, Penelope Pitstop, Josie the Pussycat and more! She did physically appear in Mayberry, too, in the Andy Griffith Show episode "A Wife for Andy."

3. Karen Knotts, daughter of Don, has a role in the movie.

Karen Knotts continues to carry on the legacy of her father to this day, touring her one-woman comedy show. She also has a small resume of television roles, including early guest spots on Eight Is Enough and One Day at a Time. You can find her in Return to Mayberry as Opie's receptionist!

4. Ron Howard's dad marries Barney and Thelma.

Indeed, Return to Mayberry is a family affair! Rance Howard was no stranger to The Andy Griffith Show, having been around the set often with his sons, Ron (Opie) and Clint (Leon). You probably remember him best as the governor's driver in "Barney and the Governor." He's also driving (a bus) in "Cousin Virgil." Spot him in "A Black Day for Mayberry" and "The Rumor," too!

5. Barney switched to driving a Chevy.

Ford supplied the Mayberry police cruisers in the original series. Sheriff Taylor's squad cars were always Ford Galaxie 500s. Well, after Andy moved to Cleveland (yep, that's the backstory in Return to Mayberry) the town must have switched suppliers. Barney now drives a 1981 Chevy Malibu.

6. It's just the third time Goober and Gomer appear together.

They may be cousins, but they are not as close as it seems when it comes to sharing the screen. Goober (George Lindsey) made his debut in the 1964 episode "Fun Girl." You remember the scene — "Judy! Judy! Judy!" Surprisingly, this is the only time Gomer and Goober appear together on The Andy Griffith Show! "A Visit from Cousin Goober" reunited the two again on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. in 1965. At last, in Return to Mayberry, the cousins are closer than ever, running a gas station together.

7. It was the final TV role in character for George Lindsey.

Speaking of Goober, Return to Mayberry would prove to the television swan song in character for actor George Lindsey. Well, there was one brief reprise in an unlikely place. Nashville Now was a talk show on the Nashville Network in the early Nineties. In 1991, an entire episode was devoted to The Andy Griffith Show, with the stars as guests, as the cast was in town for a reunion. Lindsey, Hal Smith and Betty Lynn slipped into character for a short skit. He would later make a couple of cameos as "himself" on Vicki! and NewsRadio in the 1990s.

8. A certain Taylor child seems to be missing.

Remember this baby? Samuel Taylor? Child of Andy and Helen Taylor? He was first seen in "Andy's Baby," an episode of Mayberry R.F.D. Opie's kid brother would have been around 17 years old in Return to Mayberry. However, no mention is made of the boy, nor is he seen.

9. Some notorious Mayberry criminals went straight.

In "The Christmas Story," early in the episode, Andy and Barney sit and read holiday cards. The Hubachers, a trio of brothers locked up in state prison, send one to the cops. We see a close-up of the card, which reads, "Greetings from state prison." Well, the Hubachers must have reformed after two decades. Look for Hubacker's Hardware Store in Return to Mayberry! They're now businessmen, presumably!

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Bobscharmin 8 months ago
No Andy was 60 and Don was 62 in 1986!!!
MeTVGG 11 months ago
No one aged very well in Mayberry, except for Opie. Andy Griffith was only 53 and Don Knotts was 62 when this movie was made. Yes, I looked that up because they looked like they'd had a lot more birthdays than that.
spalding69 11 months ago
I stopped watching after Barney left the series and Andy turned into a sour stiff.
gmail 11 months ago
I have to say, I still watch daily but, today return to Mayberry was a terribly Written & Directed show for TAGS!
Just pitiful.
They did not bother to pay for a good writers, script or director.
The truth is the truth.
Clindsey 11 months ago
Grow up in a small town in n.c. And the Andy Griffith show is practically a religion,growing up our small town was much like Mayberry,with some of the people just exactly like some characters on the show,but they were well respected in the community just like on the show-return to Mayberry made fools of us all,I can’t believe the actors that brought such a wholesome show to tv would participate in such a clown show,they made bank on all the stereotypical southern assumptions,and turned our beloved characters into idiots -the original had fun with the characters,but it was never insulting like the reboot .
LoverofGoodFanfiction 23 months ago
Interesting. I was born a bit too late to get into the original and just learned there was a sequel. I enjoyed a few episodes when I saw it as an adult. It sounds like the sequel didn't do as well as some well done fanfiction would have. Perhaps the problem is that Hollywood wants money and is more superficial, caring only about the outside – like looks like someone said. So they are not concerned with tying up the loose ends fans wanted to begin with. Take what I'll link here, a fun Hogan's Heroes reunions on May which shows everyone survived, where characters are, and has some really fun singing says Hawkeye and BJ are talked into helping Hogan get some people out of North Korea. While I don't know if there were really prisoners in North Korea the way that I have, it ties in quite well with the Cold War era during which would have been aired. But, even had Bob Crane and John Banner lived - or had they been able to find actors to replace them - I don't think they would have done it like this because they usually don't want real complexity. The best you can hope for is Fuller house. Which was pretty good. But is not the norm. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/1795516/1/Reunion
Rick 23 months ago
Well, as many have commented, it's not a great plot. But that's not the point of a reunion movie. Reunion movies are made so people can see how so-and-so looks today. They're fun celebrations, instead of good narrative.
TakayasMom 23 months ago
Samuel? The baby was named Andrew Jr. I always wondered why he got to be a junior and poor Opie got a hick name. Where did you get Samuel? You're thinking of his main (of three) godfathers, Sam Jones.
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StricklyPK Coldnorth 17 months ago
Otis was actually not an uncommon first name for men, especially in the South, for men during the time period when Otis would have been born.
As for Opie's name, my understanding is that "Opie" was a nickname for the name "Opal", which was, again, not a hugely uncommon name for men during that time period. My family had a dear friend whose name was "Opal", and I have heard and read of a few other men with that name. We also had a family friend whose name was "Girdle Beatty, Jr.", named after his dad, and our friend went by "Junior" his entire life.
From what I've read, the character of Opie got his name from a "Big Band" leader, whose first name was "Opal", (and I cannot think of the man's last name), but the bandleader went by the nickname "Opie", and Andy Griffith really admired the man's music. So they gave his character's son the name "Opie" in tribute to that bandleader.
ALLMEDIA2021 TakayasMom 9 months ago
The child between Andy and Helen was named Andrew Samuel Taylor, Jr.
ALLMEDIA2021 StricklyPK 9 months ago
The name Otis Campbell came from the sheriff and deputy in Mt. Airy, NC where Andy grew up! The name Otis came from one of them and the name Campbell came from the other.
Callie185 TakayasMom 6 months ago
I liked the name Opie
DZee 23 months ago
I thought the movie was done well.....but Janet Waldo's "Aunt Bee" imitation was horrible. It didn't sound anything like her and the words they used just didn't sound like something Aunt Bee would have said. It was great seeing just about every character back in their roles.

Something MeTV didn't mention was there was a character from Return to Mayberry that also appeared in a MASH episode. The new restaurant owner and "villain" in the movie....Wally Butler....played by Richard Lineback.
McGillahooala 23 months ago
This reunion like most was not great. You can’t catch lightning in a bottle, you can however, milk a good idea for every dollar until there’s nothing left. There isn’t a Mona Lisa 2 or a Romeo and Juliet The College Years. I don’t understand why filmmakers always cheapen their products through remakes and reunions. If you produce something great, take a bow and walk off stage.
Michael McGillahooala 23 months ago
I don't think I ever saw it.

But I remember some of that reunion wave, andI thought they were pretty good. They brought back the living cast members, it was a chance to see what might have happened since the show was on. At least some of the time, original people were behind the scenes.

Maybe a decade later, the cast wouldn't ve available. And made for tv movies were on the decline.

That's when there were movies based on tv series. No original cast members, little in common with the original. I suppose those might have worked for younger people, but not appealing to those who saw the shows in their original run.
LoveMETV22 McGillahooala 23 months ago
True you can't save lightning in a bottle. You answered your own wonderment as filmmakers or some brilliant (not) individual wishes to re-make what was great for the 💰💰.
TheAvenger McGillahooala 23 months ago
Very simple. They do it for the $$$$$$$.
bnichols23 McGillahooala 23 months ago
I remember watching & kinda-sorta enjoying it, but yeah, it just didn't hit the target. One thing that messed it up for me was the garbage bit about Andy's car "surging" as they were coming into town. Sorry, but if you're going to do something like that, do a better job of it than having the driver contiue to hit the brakes. :( That was so obvious & off-putting it weakened the rest of the show for me. I haven't seen it again since then & that one time stuck in my memory, it was so poorly done. :\
Pacificsun McGillahooala 23 months ago
Well that's not always the case. With appreciation to your contribution.

IMO when the logical premise isn't followed through, there's an issue. So it really has to do with quality and control. Now if the Gomer & Goober cousins weren't featured but 3 times together through 8 seasons, then why have them owning a Filling Station. That's a cheap chip. Notice, they don't really speak to each other. Lindsey was a versatile actor, my hunch is, compensation might've been the real problem between them. Why put Aunt Bee's voice into anything, the visit to the cemetery was poignant enough . I've heard the expanse of the replaced setting, lost the "small town" feel too.

I don't think reunions are to see where *anyone* is in the new day. But to resurface the viewers original connection with the series. In an instance of a reunion movie (for an entirely different series) the criticism was that no input was requested from (ardent) fans, like what TAGs has. What did they like best about them, and where did they want to see them go, in a sequel.

In a way, it's almost more effective to create a new plot (significant storyline) that demonstrates a reason for the characters. Not just that they bump into each other. But there were (like with ST) HUNDREDS of open-ended plots, that could've been continued reasonably.

I watched it back and forth, and was mystified by some of the scenes. And it was slow.
ncadams27 23 months ago
I would liked to have seen reunion movies featuring Andy Taylor and Ben Matlock, Jed Clampett and Barnaby Jones, Jim Anderson and Marcus Welby, and Laura Petrie and Mary Richards.
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Pacificsun LoveMETV22 23 months ago
Oh, that would be a fantastically interesting writing project. Exactly as MeTV promo's two series with the same starring actor. Television is about imagination. And if they could kill off Bobby Ewing. Then bring him back, writers can do anything!! Witness the Star Trek Universe.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 23 months ago
Very cool!
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 23 months ago
LOL! (IMO) probably more like infringing on the creative rights of competing production companies.

In Hollywood it's *always* about money.
murgatroid45 ncadams27 11 months ago
Well, Barnaby Jones did make an appearance in the Beverly Hillbillies movie.
hermanstein2015 23 months ago
So much great information!! Absolutely love this show and this movie ❤️
FrankensteinLover 23 months ago
This Is Great Still My Favorite Show Rerun After Rerun I'm Still A Dedicated Fan. If You Have Never Been Do Yourself A Favor and Go To Mt Airy Nc ( Andy Griffith's Hometown)
ncadams27 23 months ago
I noticed that the Return to Mayberry movie airs Sunday at 8 in place of Monk. I also saw a commercial on MeTV this morning that the Perry Mason movies will air Sundays at 8 beginning May 8. I’d this goodbye to Monk?
LoveMETV22 ncadams27 23 months ago
It appears for the time being anyways.
DZee ncadams27 23 months ago
We can only hope.
Michael DZee 23 months ago
Monk is a great show. It just doesn't belong on MeTV
CaptainBeyond ncadams27 23 months ago
I'm thinking it'll be back after the TV movies play out. It's still listed on the roster of shows. I hope it does come back. It's hilarious.
Rick ncadams27 23 months ago
Perry Mason movies seem like a better replacement for "Columbo" than "Monk" was.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 23 months ago
Yeah, they've got a lot of TV Movies to go through. A lot like the Columbo series
Pacificsun ncadams27 23 months ago
Were you planning to join the Mourners of Monk Un-Fan Club!

I believe they're meeting, with TV sets turned off, next Sunday.
Runeshaper 23 months ago
Very cool facts. Thanks for sharing, MeTV!
Barry22 23 months ago
Here's what they should have done: Andy Jr. is a confused teenager with a mohawk, and his Dad takes him to Mayberry to straighten him out. Gomer is married to Lou-Ann and has a son named Vince. Goober married that blonde waitress and has a son named Wally. Vince and Wally are nerds, but unlike their Dads, really smart.
rruustoopid Barry22 23 months ago
Yours is a Much better storyline!!!
coffeecup 23 months ago
I saw the movie when first aired and thought it lacked plot. It was nice to see Otis and see what happen to the characters but the plot about a sea creature was silly and didn't hold my interest. Saw the movie many years later and felt the same.
Pacificsun coffeecup 23 months ago
Sea Creature??? I must've gone into the kitchen for a snack.
JosephScarbrough 23 months ago
Samuel is not the only child who went missing in RETURN TO MAYBERRY . . . what happened to Andylina? Charlene Darling's daughter whom she named after Sheriff Andy? And whom she and the rest of the Darling clan tried to betroth to Opie? Andy and Opie even used Opie's disappearing ink on the contract they signed (while Andy also recited that funny incantation, "Eebum-shoobum-shoobum") to scare them away into thinking they got witchery in their blood.

Speaking of the Darlings, Dud Walsh was also conspicuously absent, and Ernest T. Bass seems to have finally gotten Charlene, with seemingly no issues or qualms from the rest of the family either . . . where was the explanation for any of this?
LalaLucy JosephScarbrough 23 months ago
Thank you. Those are all questions I have always had.
MrsPhilHarris 23 months ago
It’s not very good but I’ll likely watch some of it. I’ve seen it twice. But I think a lot of the charm disappeared with the original set. It just doesn’t look the same. It would have been fun as mentioned below, if Leon had a scene, and Gomer has married Lou Ann Poovie.
harlow1313 23 months ago
Perhaps I am in the minority, but I don't care for this reunion. I realize that reunion episodes typically bring back characters and give them an update, but it isn't something I enjoy. So many of the thin parts make the roles caricatures, just to cram them in. I would prefer a semi-ordinary episode with changes in character circumstances subtly revealed in the plot's progression.
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